Mowbray clutching at straws as Chelsea brush Albion aside


at The Hawthorns

Tony Mowbray likes his similes.

After defeat at Liverpool last week, the West Bromwich Albion manager likened trying to stop the Reds to a man in bed with a blanket that is too short. If he pulls it up to cover his neck he leaves his feet exposed. If he pulls it down, his neck gets cold.

After Chelsea demolished the Baggies in just over 10 minutes at The Hawthorns, Mowbray started talking double Dutch, comparing facing Filipe Scolari’s side to sticking his finger in a dyke.

“I think teams like ourselves in this division find themselves in a similar position,” Mowbray said.

“You are always sticking your finger in the dyke. If you play two strikers as we did tonight then you leave yourself pretty vulnerable at the back like you saw for a 10 minute spell in the first half, and if you play one up front you never get close enough to their goal. That is how football is in this league.

“Against 16 other teams in this league we can compete pretty well but against the top teams you are always sticking your finger in the dyke. Do you sit back or do you go and have a go, especially in front of your own fans but leave yourself exposed at the back?”

Some might question what Mowbray is on about but he couldn’t have expressed the conundrum of taking on the top four any better, but here is another one; do you stick or twist?

Mowbray is a man with footballing principles and he has total and utter belief in them. The likes of next week’s opponents Stoke City would certainly stick in the hope of frustrating the bigger teams, and they had success against Arsenal.

However, Mowbray likes his teams to play the kind of football that Albion is renowned, regardless of who is in town, and that is exactly why the supporters were still chanting his name, even though his side were put to the sword by a stunning strike by Jose Bosingwa and then two clinical finishes from Nicola Anelka, bringing his total to eight goals in five games.

Whether the courage of his conviction is flawed only time will tell, but Mowbray would argue that trying to contain a side that was able to bring on Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack as second half substitutes is like trying to stop a runaway steamroller by lying in the road – pointless and liable to leave you feeling flat.

“I don’t think you can shut up shop against teams like that,” he said.

“I saw them against Middlesbrough who tried to shut up shop. They played one up front and had everyone back behind the ball and they lost 5-0.

“You are playing against top players and if we hadn’t had a go and sat everyone behind the ball, you would be asking me is that the way to play, with one up front against Chelsea and never giving yourself a chance.

“That is why I go back to putting your finger in the dyke.

“You can’t shut up shop against Chelsea. Who can? Maybe Manchester United and Liverpool can, but West Bromwich Albion can’t.”

Scorers: Bosingwa (34), Anelka (38, 45).

WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon; Meite (Donk, 69); Olsson; Robinson; Koren; Greening; Valero; Morrison (Teixeira, 59); Miller; Bednar (Kim, 46). Subs: Kiely; Cech; Brunt; Moore.

CHELSEA (4-5-1): Cudicini; Bosingwa; Ivanovic; Terry (Ferreira, 86); Bridge; Malouda; Deco; Lampard; Mikel; Kalou (Ballack, 68); Anelka (Drogba, 74). Subs: Hilario; Cole; Sinclair; Mineiro.

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent).

Bookings: Chelsea – Terry, Bosingwa, Ivanovic (all fouls).

Attendance: 26,322

Albion man of the match: James Morrison – tried to carry the fight to Chelsea until he was injured.